This Article is From Jun 14, 2023

Tamil Nadu Minister's Arrest Triggers Row, Hospital Suggests Bypass Surgery

Tamil Nadu Minister and DMK leader V Senthil Balaji has been arrested in connection with an alleged money laundering case

The ED brought V Senthil Balaji to Omandurar government hospital in Chennai


Tamil Nadu Minister and DMK leader V Senthil Balaji, who had an angiogram hours after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, has been remanded in judicial custody till June 28. He has been advised a CABG-bypass surgery "at the earliest".

The test was conducted after he was taken to the hospital for a medical check-up by the ED. Doctors at the Chennai hospital said the angiogram revealed a triple vessel disease.

Mr Balaji had broken down on the way to the hospital. Visuals of him weeping in the ambulance and later at the hospital, were widely circulated.  

The minister was arrested in connection with a money laundering case this morning after hours of questioning.

"He is in the ICU. He was in an unconscious state and did not respond when he called him by his name. He is under observation... there is a swelling near his ear, doctors say there is variation in his ECG (electrocardiogram)... these are symptoms of torture," DMK leader PK Sekar Babu said. 

"Senthil Balaji is undergoing treatment," said Tamil Nadu Sports Minister and DMK Youth Wing chief Udhayanidhi Stalin. "We would face it legally. The DMK will not be cowed down by the BJP's intimidation."

Mr Balaji's wife has filed a petition in the Madras High Court against his arrest. The high court has agreed to an urgent hearing of the case. The DMK leader's wife alleged that the arrest was made without any notice or summons. 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin visited Mr Balaji at the hospital today. 

Recently, Income Tax (IT) authorities searched the properties of Mr Balaji's associates across the state. This came after the Supreme Court allowed the Enforcement Directorate to continue its investigation into cash-for-jobs allegations against Mr Balaji dating back to when he was a minister during the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK regime. The Supreme Court had also allowed the agency to proceed with its investigation into the alleged money laundering case.

The ruling DMK had accused the BJP of targeting the party in panic after being unseated in Karnataka in recent assembly elections.

Chief Minister Stalin slammed the BJP-led central government for the raids on Mr Balaji and said the party is resorting to "politics of intimidation".

The ED on Tuesday raided Mr Balaji's residence, his office at the Tamil Nadu Secretariat and the premises of his brother and a close aide in Karur district. Chief Minister Stalin condemned the searches at the Secretariat, saying that the BJP's "politics of threatening their political rivals through backdoor tactics" will not work.

Mr Stalin further said that conducting a raid at the Secretariat is a violation of the federal structure of the country.

Mr Balaji is the Minister of Electricity, Prohibition and Excise, and the Karur District Secretary of the DMK.